Saturday, July 12, 2008

Solitude is my mascara: translations from the Scream

As part of the Scream literary festival in Toronto, culminating on Monday with the big Scream in High Park mainstage reading, Hugh Thomas and Jenny Sampirisi ran a workshop on "Naive Translation," this past Monday, at the fantastic Type Books in Toronto. The workshop focussed on different approaches to translation -- for example, homophonic translations. There are several blogs associated with the Scream that discussed the workshop as well as posting some pictures. The workshop was excellent -- lively, fun, interesting, and well organized. The variety of participants was also tremendous -- there were many very fantastic, yet different writers who were there.

Here are a few pieces that I 'translated' at the workshop. Hugh and Jenny are planning to assemble many of pieces created at the workshop (and were were many really excellent ones) in a chapbook to be offered for sale at the Scream reading in High Park.

I created this piece from four fragments of Sappho:

fragments from Sappho

holy sparrows
flow like water
I don’t know
lovely songs

lovely water
flows like sparrows
I don’t know
holy songs

holy songs
flow like water
lovely sparrows
I don’t know

I don’t know
flows like water
holy sparrows
lovely song

This is an ekphrastic piece, based on illustration from a Japanese Haiku book:


a pilgrimage of stilted shadows
spoken in the long light

This homophonic translation is from Lorca’s “La Luna Asoma”:


When we bathe in moonlight
we pardon our companions
and the impenetrable apparitions
that they send us.

When we bathe in moonlight
the cubist ocean finds the earth
and the heart leaving the island
turns infinite.

The oranges never arrive
banjos become lunar hyenas
and what has come before
is green with fruit and regret.

When we bathe in moonlight
the sky becomes a hundred restless iguanas
the money left on plates
a balsawood soliloquy.

And finally, this is a homophonic translation from a piece of Lorca’s Poet in New York. Hugh and Jenny plan to assemble the various chunks translated by workshop participants into one single 'translation.'

Will we bail out the father?
No, we will not bail out the father
and not the King.
And not the millionaires with blue teeth
And not the ballerinas in the dry cathedrals
And not the construction workers, or the emeralds, locomotives, or the O Sole Mio

For solitude is my mascara
and mascara is my old darling.
Solitude, I say, is my mascara!

No comments: